Meet QuintessenceLabs, an Australian startup and co-winner of the Asian Regional SmartCamp in Beijing. This is Part 1 of 8 in our Meet the Global Finalists series, stay tuned as we get to know all the contenders!
1. Briefly, what is your company’s solution, how does it work, and where did the idea come from?
Building on award-winning, “frontier-of-science” research at the Australian National University, QuintessenceLabs has harnessed the properties of nature as described by quantum science to fortify the protection of data in-transit, at-rest and in-use.
Recognising that vulnerabilities will always exist, and that breaches will always occur, QuintessenceLabs has approached the data protection problem by developing technology and infrastructure components that protect the data itself.
Our Q-Stream product family allows enterprises to take a modular approach to their data protection needs with four distinct modules that can be applied independently, together, or with third-party vendor products.
2. Explain how the company was born; who are the key players on your team and how did they come together?
The idea to create a start-up a company developing quantum cryptographic technology was seeded at a class on quantum physics at Stanford University. On completion of the Sloan Program at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, the now founder and CEO of QuintessenceLabs, Vikram Sharma, sat in on a few classes on quantum physics where emerging applications of quantum physics were discussed. Intrigued by the prospects of this potentially disruptive technology, he sought to establish a start-up in this space.
He joined a research team at the Australian National University which achieved one of the world’s first experimental realisations of 2nd gen quantum cryptography – this research was awarded the Eureka national science prize for innovation. QuintessenceLabs was formed to leverage this fundamental scientific research into technologies with practical application to enterprise data protection, and now hosts a highly credentialed team including ten members with doctorates, a world-class group of information security experts, quantum physicists and communications specialists, and an eminent board.
3. How will your solution impact people’s lives for the better?
Through the world-leading development of what can truly be regarded as Next Generation Cryptography, QuintessenceLabs’ technology has the potential to touch every human in all walks of life. As conventional cryptographic solutions approach end-of-life, quantum-based security solutions developed by QuintessenceLabs are the natural successors to protect data both today and tomorrow.
These next-generation solutions enable personal, enterprise and sovereign information to be robustly secured today and, equally, into the future. Other than direct financial benefits and engendering trust, in certain applications the solutions will enable safeguarding of human life.
4. What is the best advice you’ve been given or the most important thing you’ve learned in the SmartCamp competition so far?
Drawing on the counsel of the deeply talented and experienced mentors with whom we’ve interacted during SmartCamp, the most valuable outcome has been the distillation of a compelling and broadly resonant articulation of the business value of our technology solution.
Another equally valuable piece of advice was to “have fun and enjoy the experience!”
5. In what ways do you hope working with IBM will help your company grow and succeed?
Working with IBM sales, marketing and engineering teams we aim to realise the global commercial potential of QuintessenceLabs’ breakthrough technology. The partnership will accelerate the integration of our technology into broader IBM offerings and produce differentiated solutions with unique capabilities.
Through IBM’s global network of customer touch points, we will be able to rapidly deliver these innovative solutions to enterprises worldwide. Of course, the credibility gained from collaboration with the world’s preeminent technology company is also tremendously valuable and significantly adds to QuintessenceLabs’ credentials.
Finally, the introduction to funding sources offers the potential to raise funds to substantially accelerate both our market development activities and technology development roadmap.
6. What is the main reason your company should be named IBM SmartCamp’s Entrepreneur of the Year?
Paralleling many of IBM’s own transformative and very successful products and services, QuintessenceLabs’ technology draws on breakthrough scientific research and deep insight into data security to offer solutions with global application.
This next-generation security technology, which comprehensively addresses the critical problem of safeguarding valuable data, has application in every Smarter Planet initiative. In concert with the IBM team, strong complementarities with a suite of IBM products have already been identified and preliminary integration efforts have commenced to realise the significant commercial potential.